A Trap for the Trusting: A hopelessly romantic view of franchising

December 8, 2008

humpbackanglerfish“A Trap for the Trusting”

Harold Brown, Boston, USA-based lawyer, coined this not-famous enough phrase in describing franchising well over 40 years ago.

  • Sad to report, it’s gotten much worse. The table manners appear better but the rot goes deeper.

The reason is that there is a veneer of respectability that was missing in those raw, cowboy days. It is more treacherous being a franchisee than when Brown was alive and practicing law.

Analysis: There are two ways to win at any competition:

  • One is to raise your game [internal] and
  • Two is to to lower your opponent’s competence [external].

G.K. Chesterton put it well:

It is perfectly obvious that in any decent occupation (such as bricklaying or writing books) there are only two ways (in any special sense) of succeeding.

One is by doing very good work, the other is by cheating.

  • The franchise industry has consistently chosen to cheat.

The architects of that game is the franchise bar and, specifically, the Alpha Male franchisor lawyer [aka Tin Pot Tyrant].

  • These credence good providers cheat principally by managing the illusion that franchisees have only one route to resolving disputes [lawsuit].
  • and that they stand more than 0% chance to win in 100% of lawsuits and
  • Any, anywhere the law is fine enough to catch blatant fraud.
  • Of course, there are some temporary “wins” by franchisees but that is useful in maintaining false hope.

In nature, luring someone to their death is a well-studied strategy. It works really, really well.

Aggressive mimicry is:

…a form of mimicry where predators, parasites or parasitoids share similar signals with a harmless model, allowing them to avoid being correctly identified by their prey or host. In its broadest sense, it involves any type of exploitation,…

A “harmless model” is an experienced regional commercial lawyer. A mimicking predator is listed on the national franchisor trade association’s web site.

The Greatest Lies are Told in Silence: the deceived animal (franchisee) is unaware [before AND after] that there is a trap (although observers know full well) and is steered into believing that the Big Bad Wolf franchisor huffed and puffed their life savings away.

Many aggressive mimics use the promise of nourishment as a way of attracting prey. Though apparent to observers, the irony of falling prey when trying to capture its own is certainly lost on the deceived animal. Wikipedia

The Humpback anglerfish uses a modified dorsal spine as a bioluminescent ‘fishing rod’ to capture prey.

“My. What big teeth you have, Grandma.”

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